Saturday, January 26, 2008

Just For Fun: World Golf Tour Game

Not much time to blog lately... my parents are in town. But I thought I'd share a fun link with you. This game was just mentioned in Fortune Magazine. It's really fun and looks beautiful. Check it out here.

Screenshots for your viewing pleasure :)



Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday Morning Dubai Pictures


These boys let me take a picture this morning... very very cute. :)


The scene before I cropped it... you can see the Burj Dubai in the background on the left.


First really clear day in a while. The Burj Dubai and Business Bay construction site sprouting from the desert.

Friday, January 18, 2008

NYTimes Photo Report on Peshawar Pakistan

I really enjoy the multimedia presentations of different places around the world on many of the many US newspaper websites. Here is a very interesting one from the New York Times website. It's a photo report on Peshawar Pakistan. Peshawar is a battleground between the Islamic extremist groups like the Taliban and the Pakistani government. Click the link below to get to the slideshow. The pic above is the first one in the show... a striking black and white shot.

Peshawar Under Seige

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Quote: Love Your Neighbor and Your Enemy

Great Quote:

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
GK Chesterton

Dubai Schools Called Off Due to... Flooding?

Update: Ministry of Education cancels school until Sunday!
Update: January 2008 now the wettest on record in the UAE!

Weird week in Dubai. Monday was declared a state/private holiday due to President Bush's visit to town. (see motorcade pictures below) Then it started raining on Monday afternoon and it really hasn't stopped since then. The roads and some neighborhoods are flooding. Some people reported being in traffic for 4 hours from Sharjah trying to get to Dubai... a trip that normally might take an hour.

Now school tomorrow has been canceled (happy kids) due to the flooding and traffic woes related to the rain.

Bush and flooding. The "planets" will never "align" like this again in Dubai. A few pictures below.

Burj Dubai shrouded in fog and clouds.

Sheikh Zayed Road skyline with fog and clouds.

Rare rainy roadway on Beach Road, Dubai.

Yeah, I probably shouldn't have taken this picture while I was moving :(... watery roundabout in Jumeirah.

President Bush Visits Dubai - Motorcade Pics!

President Bush visited Abu Dhabi two days ago and then Dubai yesterday. I think it was his first visit here ever. All of Dubai was basically shut down yesterday. They declared a Emirate-wide private and public holiday late on Sunday afternoon. Many roads were to be closed for the better part of the day.

A friend snapped these pictures out of his apartment window. It's the President's motorcade. Very interesting!

This road is never desolate like this!

Notice the police at the bottom right.

Police helicopter hovering overhead as the motorcade passed.

This is Sheikh Mohammad's car. Notice the license plate number "1". He usually drives this himself.

Motorcade Limos.

Not sure what's in this car/truck. Looks "special" though.

Sallelite communications/tracking car?

Three identical Escalades... tight formation.

But someone's peeking out...

Could that be President Bush?... I think it is.

Update: Now I'm not so sure... here is a pic of him that day from the local newspaper. What do you think? Tie matches but the coat might be too dark in the photo.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Burj Dubai Reaches 158 Floors... 600m... Highest in the World

This picture was taken on December 7, 2007 by a friend of mine (thanks to Paul).

Burj Dubai Update:

The Burj Dubai reached 600m and 158 floors in early January. That is the tallest and most floors of any building in the world. Here is some interesting info from a recent GulfNews article:

"Cladding work of the tower is now ongoing at an accelerated pace with 58 storeys already wearing the shimmering sheen of the high-performance cladding system," the statement said.

"The primary materials used - reflective glazing, aluminium and textured stainless steel spandrels and vertical stainless tubular fins - accentuate the tower's height and slenderness to the eye."

Burj Dubai is now taller than Taipei 101 (508 metres) in Taiwan and CN Tower (553.33 metres) in Toronto, Canada.

When completed, the tower will have used 330,000 cubic metres of concrete, 39,000 metric tonnes of steel rebar and 142,000 square metres of glass - and 22 million man hours.

More than 5,000 consultants and skilled professionals workers are employed on-site at the tower.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A "Fresh" and Simple Translation of Romans 8

I get a daily email entitled Christian Quote of the Day. I've been getting it for over 5 years now and though I don't read it every day it has been a great source of encouragement and spiritual stimulation almost weekly.

Today is the 12 year anniversary of the email list and the author has published the entire chapter 8 of Romans from a book entitled "The Inspired Letters in Clearest English", a translation into simple English of the letters of the New Testament, prepared by Frank C. Laubach, a twentieth-century champion of literacy
and Bible translation in many countries. In it he only uses a vocabulary of about 200 words it was published in 1954.

I really like the way it reads... refreshing. Take a look, it will only take you about 10 minutes to read it. And Romans 8 is about the pinnacle of the New Testament so you can't do much better. (Click the link below to read the entire chapter

There is now no sentence of death for those who are in
Christ Jesus. The Spirit has its own law, and this law gives
me life in Christ Jesus. It sets me free from sin and death.
What the law of Moses could not do because our flesh was too
weak, God has done. He sent His son in flesh like our sinning
flesh. Christ died as a sin-offering for us. In this way, God
passed a death sentence upon sin in the flesh. Now we are able
to live as the just law requires if we obey the Spirit and do
not obey the call of the flesh.

Those who live for the Spirit keep their minds on the
things of the Spirit. Those who live for the flesh keep their
minds on the things of the flesh. To keep the mind on the
flesh means death. But to keep the mind on the Spirit means
life and peace. The mind that is set on the flesh is the enemy
of God. It does not and cannot obey the law of God. Those who
live for the flesh cannot please God.

But you do not live for the flesh. You live for the
Spirit, if the Spirit of God really lives in you. Any man who
does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ.
If Christ lives in you, your bodies are dead because of sin,
but your spirits are alive and you love what is right. The
Spirit of God Who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. And
God is going to put life into your bodies just as He raised
Christ Jesus from the dead. It is His Spirit which lives in
you which will be your life.

So then, brothers, we do not owe a duty to the flesh. We
are not to obey the call of the flesh. If you live for the
flesh you will die. But if you are led by the Spirit, and put
to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those
who are led by God's Spirit are God's sons. You did not
receive the spirit of a slave, to make you fear. But we have
received the spirit of a Son of God. That is why we cry,
"Father, dear Father." The Spirit of God is bearing witness
with our spirits that we are children of God. If we are God's
children we are also to be God's heirs. We are fellow-heirs
with Christ. If we share His sufferings, we shall also share
His glory. I do not consider the sufferings of this present
time worth comparing to the glory that is going to be revealed
to us.

Even the created world is waiting with eager desire for
the sons of God to appear. Every created thing has been put
under the power of death and decay. Nothing wants to die or
decay, but God has willed it so. Yet He gave us hope that the
created world itself will be set free from decay and death.
Then everything in the world will obtain the glorious liberty
of the children of God. We know that the whole created world
has been groaning in the pains of childbirth until now. Not
only the world around us, but we ourselves have been groaning
within. We are waiting for God to deliver our bodies from the
power of death. We are waiting for Him to adopt us as His
sons. This is the hope that saves us. If it had already
happened we would not need to hope for it. Who hopes for a
thing after he has it? But if we still hope for what we do not
yet see, we must be patient while we wait for it.

The Holy Spirit is a glorious first fruit of what God
plans to give us. The Holy Spirit helps us, because we are
weak. We do not know how we ought to pray. But the Holy Spirit
Himself keeps praying for us with sighs too deep for words.
God Who can see into men's hearts, knows what the Spirit
desires. And the Spirit keeps praying for God's people in the
way God wishes. We know that God works with those who love Him
to bring good out of everything.

Those who love Him have been called according to His
purpose. He knew them before they were born and He had chosen
them to become like His son. Jesus was the first born and
those whom God has chosen are His brothers. Those whom God
chose He called. He cleared all charges against those whom He
called. He gave His own glory to those whose charges He

What then can we say if this is true? God is for us, so
who can be against us. God did not spare His own Son, but gave
Him up for us all. And God will gladly give us all things
along with Christ. Who then shall bring any charges against
those whom God has chosen? It was God Who cleared their
charges, so who dares to condemn them? Christ Jesus died; He
was raised from the dead; He is at the right hand of God. And
it is He who pleads for us. Who shall separate us from the
love of Christ? Shall trouble or pain or ill treatment or
hunger or need of clothes or danger or death? As it is

"For Thy sake we face death the whole day;
we are regarded as sheep to be killed."

Yet in all these things that happen we shall have victory and
more than victory by the help of Him Who loved us. I am sure
that nothing shall be able to separate us from Christ, in life
or in death. Neither angels nor even the princes of the dark
spirit world can separate us from Christ. Nothing now and
nothing that shall ever come can separate us. No power, no
height, no depth, nor anything God has created will be able to
separate us from His love which He gave us in Christ Jesus our

... prepared by Frank C. Laubach (1884-1970), The Inspired
Letters in Clearest English [1954]

Monday, January 07, 2008

Pictures from Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

This mosque has been under construction for as long as I have lived in the UAE (over 5 years) and it's finally been finished. I'm currently looking into whether it's open to the public. I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

Nevertheless, it's very very impressive. Take a look...

Click here to see the slideshow

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Christians Not Allowed to refer to God as Allah in Malaysia?

This is a very interesting article I ran across today about the Malaysian government banning Christians (specifically Roman Catholics in this case) from using the word "Allah" to refer to God in their publications. It raises very interesting and ominous questions about religious freedom. The Malaysian Christians make the point that the word Allah is pre-Islamic and therefore cannot be protected as an Islamic word as such.

I don't have too much time to comment but here is what the de facto minister for Islamic affairs official said in defending the ban...

"The use of the word 'Allah' by non-Muslims may arouse sensitivity and create confusion among Muslims in the country."
What do you think?

Friday Prayers at the Mosque

This is the scene in front of a Dubai mosque just yesterday, Friday, and I took it at a stop light on Jumeirah Beach Road. You'll notice how full the mosque is. This is atypical for the middle of the week but somewhat normal on Friday at the Jumuah prayer.

The Jumuah is the name for the Friday prayer time in Islam that happens just after noon and is preceeded by a sermon or Khutba by the Imam of the mosque. The friday prayer is perhaps the most important of all the prayer times for muslims. Prayer is required 5 times a day but this one is special in importance. Thus most of the mosques see large crowds gather particularly on Friday. The Khutba (or sermon) is typically broadcast over a loudspeaker to the surrounding neighborhood here in the UAE.

Here's a selection of things the Koran, the Hadith's (saying of the Prophet), and some Islamic scholars/teachers have said about the Jumuah and muslim prayer in general:

The Prophet said...

"If a person had a stream outside his door and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left on him?" The people said, "No filth would remain on him whatsoever." The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, "That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them." (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

In another hadith, the Prophet said,

"The five daily prayers and the Friday Prayer until the Friday prayer are expiation for what is between them." (Recorded by Muslim.)

"Of all the days, Friday is the most virtuous. It is on this day that the trumpet will be blown. Send abundant blessings upon me on Fridays because they are presented to me on that day."
On this day it is commanded by the Prophet that you should take a full bath (ghusl), put on clean clothes and perfume/cologne if you have it. Also, it is not obligatory for females to offer this particular prayer.

The Koran says...

"O you who believe! When the call for Friday prayer is made, hasten towards the remembrance of Allah Most High and leave all transactions. This is best for you if only you know." (I'm unsure of this reference)

"Verily, man was created impatient, irritable when evil touches him and niggardly when good touches him. Except for those devoted to prayer those who remain constant in their prayers…" (al-Maarij 19-23)
The Christian View of Prayer - A Very Short Summary

The Christian view of prayer is different from the Muslim view. Christian prayer is simply communication with God. In prayer, a person can do any number of different things including, acknowledge God's character, holiness, and other attributes, cry out to him in emotional pain and anguish, make requests of God to intervene in our lives and in the world to act in certain ways in keeping with his character and purposes in the world, remind God of his promises, ask for wisdom for decisions and life choices, etc. The Bible is full of examples of prayers of people in many different life situations. We should study them and pattern our prayers after them in the appropriate times and situations.

I know of no examples of Muslim prayers in the Koran presumably because the Koran is almost thoroughly a recounting of God's words directly to the Prophet.

One of the most important things about Christian prayer is that is not a duty that atones for or makes expiation for sin. It does not enhance one's moral standing before God. In fact, only through Christ, the perfect God-man, can we "boldly approach the throne" of God in prayer. Apart from Christ we approach a holy God as sinful and rebellious people and we will not be accepted.

Also, it should be noted that for the Christian no physical cleaning is required to approach God in prayer.

For the Muslim readers who check out this post, let me know if I've made mistakes in my simple recounting of Islamic prayer and specifically the Jumuah prayer. I got most of the information from here, here, and here.

Back to Blogging... And a Few Dubai Christmas Pictures

I've taken some time off work to be with the family during this Christmas season and that always means my blogging slows down. But there's much to post and discuss so it's time to jump back in!

Before I move on to other news and ideas I've given you a few pictures I took during the Christmas season here in Dubai. Dubai is a wonderful place in the Arabian peninsula in that they allow the celebration of Christmas. I'm thankful for that. But I think that much of the motivation for the demonstrably public nature of Christmas is for merchandising reasons. Dubai retailers have learned the "cash cow" that a commercialized Christmas can be. It's kind of a shame but again, I'm grateful for the allowances that are made for celebrating this Christian remembrance in an Islamic country.

"Santa-Hat" clad checkout workers and baggers at Spinney's Grocery Store

Arab musicians at Mall of the Emirates. I don't think there was any special Christmas connection here.

The Filipino Church, a partner with our church, came to do Christmas caroling at our home one night! They sounded great and even sang a Christmas song in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines.

Here's a short (and low quality) video of the Tagalog song they sang for us.